Should My Children Share a Room?
Are you considering having your children share a room? There are advantages and disadvantages when sharing a room with a sibling. It's a wise idea to consider both before making a decision. You do not want to make a move only to pivot and change the following week; that can be very disruptive and unsettling.
Deciding to have children share a room is often not a choice for parents. Families often have a limited bedroom situation and have to make it work. For many families, space is a commodity, especially living in a city.
At the pandemic's start, parents had to work from home unexpectedly; each child with a bedroom may have had to move in with a sibling or two. Suddenly, a kid's room became a makeshift office with a Zoom conference call angle that would hopefully not reveal dinosaurs or Frozen decals on the wall. I worked with a great family in NYC who had to move their newborn triplets into the dining room. The nursery they had put so much effort into for those three beautiful babies was an office for two.
Weighing the Pros and the Cons
Sometimes a family has plenty of space, but they want their kids to share a room. Many have fond memories of their childhood and sharing a room with their sibling, while many do not! It's a good idea to look at the pros and cons first. It is also important to think long-term about moving your children into the same room. A toddler and a baby quickly grow into a big kid and a toddler. What are the needs of your child when he gets older? You can always make another change; children are resilient, especially if they know how to sleep! However, you want to make sure there are not too many moves.
Sharing a room can help siblings feel close to each other, but it can also lead to sleep challenges. The decision comes down to your circumstances, space, philosophy, what you prioritize, and what will work best for your family. Of course, my number one priority is always about my children's sleep; will one or both children's sleep be comprised? Consider all of the factors involved, and then choose what is best for you and your children.
Pros of Siblings Sharing a Room
Most parents would say that having their kids share a bedroom is more of a necessity than a choice. But what some may not realize are the benefits that come along with siblings sharing a room and that sharing a room can be very positive—living together teaches kids how to compromise and share space at an early age. They learn how to consider each other's things and respect their privacy. Some children feel better with their siblings in the room. Twins and triplets often share a room since birth. They learn to be excellent little sleepers because they learn to sleep through each other's noises. A shared bedroom arrangement can also give siblings a chance to bond. They may read or share stories and secrets before the lights are out; this can build lasting memories. I have worked with countless families and helped them move siblings into the same room with a positive and successful outcome.
Cons of Siblings Sharing a Room
Sleep is of prime importance for your child's physical, emotional and mental health, and it can be challenging to get a good night's sleep when sharing a room with a sibling. Noise levels can be higher in a shared space, making it hard to fall asleep. Additionally, siblings may have different bedtimes, preventing a smooth bedtime routine and maybe triggering an early waking. If you have older children, privacy can also be an issue when sharing a room, as siblings may not want to share personal items or space. Merging siblings can be tricky when there is a wide age gap. Your younger child may need to have a bedtime routine first and fall asleep before their older sibling has hers. Twins can get into some bedtime mischief. I have seen twins throw their lovies from crib to crib, climb into each other's crib, chatter away, and giggle during a nap. Toddlers most definitely can get into some bedtime mischief that can ensue. A mom I worked with opened the door to her toddler's room, taking a "Nap," only to find they had gotten deep into a tub of Aquaphor and baby powder; this was before they worked with me!
How Do You Decide if Siblings Should Share a Room?
Deciding whether or not to have your kids share a room can be challenging. On the one hand, it gives them a chance to bond and develops a close relationship. On the other hand, it can be difficult for your child to get a good night's sleep with a noisy sibling in the bed next to them. So how do you decide if siblings should share a room? Sleep is one factor to consider.
If you have one good sleeper and one challenged sleeper, do not make the merge into a shared bedroom. This merge typically never solves a sleep problem; it exacerbates it. If one of your children is a light sleeper, it might be best to let them have their own space. Similarly, if one child tends to stay up late reading or playing games because there is a significant age gap, they may need their room so they don't disturb their brother's sleep. My advice is to sleep-train your challenged sleeper first, merge the siblings, and then two good sleepers will be sleeping together! Yay!
Tips for making the most out of siblings sharing a room.
Make sure to sleep train each child before you move them into the same room.
Have good blackout shades in the room.
Use a sound machine. I like the Marpac Dohm as it really gets the job done.
Separate your children's cribs and or beds put them on opposite walls, stagger them, or put a dresser in between. If they are right up against each other, babies and toddlers can be very distracted.
Get creative with the room configuration.
Use a partition or a screen to create a room within a room. I love doing this with the UMBRA Anywhere Blind Divider.
If you are moving a baby into your toddler's room, talk with your toddler about how bedtime will be and what to expect.
If you have merged a toddler with a baby, give him a strategy if he hears his baby sister crying. What are the steps he should take? He will feel more in control and safe and not irritated.
The merge can be bumpy at first. Don't give up if the first two nights are more challenging. Stick with your plan of action. Consistency is the number one factor for success.
I am not a fan of bribes like "You will get a toy if you do a good job." toys and bribes only go so far. It's best to treat this as a new house rule and act like it's the new normal. I am a fan of ice cream after dinner on night one to celebrate!